Grand Strand rolls out welcome mat for golf tournament

Myrtle Beach, SC - By Brandon Herring - bio | email

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The 27th Annual World Amateur Handicap Championship golf tournament is underway in the Grand Strand this week.

The tournament is organized by Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday, and this year, is the new title sponsor.

Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday estimates the tournament has a positive impact of more than $10 million on the Grand Strand. That economic boost is spread across more than 55 golf courses and dozens of businesses, as more than 3,100 players and their families visit for the tournament.

"Getting all these people in to town is great for Myrtle Beach and for Myrtlewood," commented Myrtlewood Golf Club's assistant general manager Keith Bloom.

He said there is no doubt the World Amateur tournament is good for golf courses in the Grand Strand. The tournament lands right after the summer season and before the popular fall golfing period.

"We get right around 100 golfers a day just for World Amateur, which is great for this time of year for throughout the week," he added.

The positive impact is also felt at hotels, like the Myrtle Beach Sheraton. Again, General Manager Suzanne Hinde said the time of year is perfect, and so is the time of week.

"The tournament is a Monday through Thursday tournament, so most of the room nights come in Sunday and depart the following Friday," Hinde said. "So it really fits a nice need area for most of the hotels in this area."

At T-Bonz restaurant the sign out front reads, "Welcome World Am Golfers." General Manager David Thurber said the sign is his way of showing how much the golfers' business is appreciated.

"They come in and they bring a lot of people from different parts of the country," Thurber said. "It's a slow time between summer season and when the kids go back to school and Labor Day is when we get the last hit. It's always welcome business. It extends the season a little bit, even if it's by a week, it still extends the season a little bit."

Attracting golfers to the area for repeat visits is another pay-off of the tournament. Many golfers have decided to return to the area after visiting for golf, so attracting new people to the Grand Strand is also a major goal for organizers.

This year there are 12 percent more first-timers than last year.

The national exposure the tournament brings is also important in the effort to attract visitors. This year that exposure was boosted a bit more by the participation of Roger Clemens.

"Even though that may have been in a bad light that Roger Clemens was coming here, I just think it helps Myrtle Beach out. People say, 'He went to Myrtle Beach to play golf, let's go down there to play golf too,'" Bloom said.

New title sponsor is also part of boosting the national exposure. The website is part of the Sports Illustrated Golf Group, including Golf Magazine and SI Golf Plus. The SI Golf Group sent 24 writers and editors to the tournament.

Their coverage of the tournament will be available to the SI Golf Group's monthly audience of 12.6 million people.

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